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May - Melissa Wilson Sayres

Speaker: Melissa Wilson Sayres

Talk Title: “Sex-biased genome evolution”

Event Details


Thursday, May 11, 2017 6:00pm

Affiliation: Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences and the Center for Evolution and Medicine, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University.

Web-site: Melissa Wilson Sayres

Twitter: @mwilsonsayres


The human X and Y chromosomes evolved from a pair of homologous autosomes, but today have vastly different gene content and structure. Curiously, despite tremendous sex-bias in human disease, the sex chromosomes are rarely included in genome-wide analyses of human health and disease. One of the reasons for this exclusion is that the X and Y chromosomes don’t follow autosomal patterns of inheritance. However, even when they are included, technical biases resulting from aligning all sequences to a single reference genome can result in erroneous results. I will present results that failing to account for the ancestral sequence similarity between the human X and Y can affect variant calling and inference of gene expression.


Dr. Melissa Wilson Sayres is an Assistant Professor in the School of Life Sciences and the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University. Her main research interests are in sex-biased genetics, mutational processes, and population dynamics. In particular she is studying how the human X and Y chromosome came to be, and what this means for human health and disease. She has trained more than 40 students in how to do scientific research. In addition to her research, she is an enthusiastic educator, teaching about 400 students each year at Arizona State University, most notably in Evolution.

Please note:

Trainees are invited to meet with the VanBUG speaker for open discussion of both science and career paths. This takes place 5:00-5:45pm in either the Boardroom or Lunchroom on the ground floor of the BCCRC

Recommended Readings

Introductory Speaker: Melissa Chen (Master’s student, Laura Parfrey’s lab, UBC)

Title: “Quantification of Species Turnover along Salinity Gradients”

Webcast Link:

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